Dan Andreola Jr. stood inside his newly renovated coin and jewelry shop, Daniel Michael’s Jewelry and Coin, marveling at the glazed brick walls.
The 1,200-square-foot corner space at 39 S. Main St. once was cubed off as a local campaign headquarters for Rep. Paul Ryan. Now it has been opened up all the way down to the original brick—refloored, repainted, receilinged—and is ready for new business.
Andreola has been working in a back office, and he has had the shop open select hours for a few months now, but he still wells with pride when he looks around his new shop.
He thinks of the storefront, where he’ll buy, sell and appraise jewelry and coin collections for walk-in customers, as a small metaphor for the reinvention and revitalization that’s occurred around Janesville’s Main Street corridor.
“Something is bubbling up here. I’m new downtown, but you can see it. I can feel it,” Andreola said.
Andreola soon will be joined by another business, Angie’s on Main, a gift shop that operates on Main Street but plans to move into the storefront next door to Daniel Michael’s in February.
Both shops will add retail flavor to a block of South Main Street buildings that for years has been associated with consignment sales and antiquing, including Carousel Consignments and, more recently, Modern Charm.
The building’s addition of new shops comes on the heels of new lease and renovation deals that building owner Todd Kimball said he struck with Andreola and Angie’s on Main owner Angie Losee.
Kimball, a Janesville native, said he decided to renovate the spaces to draw new tenants because, like Andreola, he’s feeling a wave of optimism and momentum downtown unlike anything he’s experienced before.
Kimball thinks the city’s effort to revitalize the riverfront west of Main Street through the ARISE strategy, and the ensuing private investment linked to ARISE, have given downtown businesses and property owners wind in their sails.
“Right now, there’s the most positive momentum in downtown than I’ve seen in the last 30 years, I’m telling you,” Kimball said. “There’s been upswings downtown and starts to what we’re seeing now, but it’s always died down after a while. I think this time, things are gaining steam.”
It’s enough steam that he’s been willing to work with a pair of tenants on renovations that include 2,200 square feet of retail space on the street level and on the second floor of the storefronts above Andreola’s store and the future Angie’s.
Kimball said Losee and Andreola jumped on lease deals when Kimball told them he’d pay to gut and reshape retail spaces, and they could paint and redecorate the spaces however they’d like.
“I had shown the first floors to numerous people who had resale and retail they wanted to start downtown. No one wanted to rent it until I started to do the renovations,” he said.
Kimball is renaming the storefronts the Fredendall Warehouse, taking a cue from three-story block’s original name, the Fredendall Block.
For Losee, the Fredendall offers a chance for Angie’s on Main to spread its wings. Losee said her shop, which is now at 30 S. Main St., has grown from 22 vendors to about 157.
Losee said she jumped at the chance late last year to make the move. She has been working around the clock until recently, running her specialty gift shop and working across the street to ready her new storefront space, 37 S. Main St., for a Feb. 1 opening.
Losee said she plans to locate her gift shop on the first floor. The second-floor area that she and Kimball are renovating will be subleased to artisans, crafters and other sellers who otherwise would not be able to afford brick-and-mortar spaces.
She describes the upstairs as a sort of revolving pop-up store for local sellers.
“Everybody in the shop is local, and I want to keep it that way. You’re truly shopping local. I’ve been born and raised here, so that’s important to me,” said Losee, a former nurse and graphic designer.
Losee has run Angie’s on Main downtown since September 2016. During that time, she has heard Main Street shop owners get increasingly excited.
“I wanted to stay on Main,” she said. “I can see the potential of what is about to happen, so why not make this (my expansion) happen now?
“We’re getting a hotel downtown across the river. The city’s doing things. Things are happening here. It might not be all at once, all this year or all next year, but I can see something is happening, and I want to be here.”
Kimball said he plans to erect billboards along Interstate 90/39 that will direct people to downtown Janesville’s “antique shopping district,” and he’s toying with the idea of painting “Fredendall” on the building, as it once was.
Andreola plans to operate Daniel Michael’s alongside his online consignment auction business, Auction Center USA, which he’s headquartering in the shop. He believes he’s “value added” to downtown.
During a recent Gazette visit to Andreola’s storefront, a Carousel Consignment employee stopped in to talk to him about whether he could help auction a set of Warhol-era 1960s nude photo portraits originally composed at a Madison art studio.
Andreola said he’s excited about the chance for camaraderie with like-minded store owners on a block he believes is at the nexus of downtown’s revitalization. He had previously run his online auction house in a Beloit-area space next to a cornfield.
“That was lonely,” he said.
Andreola dreams of a large mural on the side of his storefront along Court Street. The mural would reproduce a view down Main Street as it would have looked in the mid-19th century.
“People would come back here to look at things the way they were at the start of downtown’s history,” he said. “Why wouldn’t anybody want to feel that way?”